•  info@koepkelaw.net
  • Call Us: (217) 726-8646


Posted on Oct 14th, 2021

Independent Contractors in Trucking/Transportation Litigation

The trucking industry is a vital part of our nation’s economy. Also, it is a complex industry involving numerous different entities including shippers of freight, freight brokers, logistics companies, trucking lines/companies and owner operators. The nature and extent of the business relationships between these entities is a common legal question that regularly arises in trucking lawsuits, especially those involving personal injury.

The most common question presented by these cases is whether a particular person/entity, commonly the owner or driver of the truck, is an agent of a larger trucking company or freight broker. Plaintiffs often want to establish that the person or entity in control of the truck at the time of an accident is the agent or employee of a larger trucking company, freight broker or logistics company.

Plaintiffs want to establish this because, by doing so, they can argue that the larger company is liable for the actions of the person/entity actually in control of the truck at the time of the accident. Generally, it is in the best interest of the plaintiff to establish liability against a company that may have “deeper pockets” than the actual driver of a truck or a smaller trucking company. Under Illinois law, this is established by pursuing a Respondeat Superior cause of action.

Under Respondeat Superior a principal (trucking company, logistics company, etc) may be liable for the tortious (wrongful) actions of its agent. It is the equivalent of a master/servant relationship. If plaintiff can prove that an alleged principal/agency relationship existed at the time of the accident, then the principal will be liable to the same extent as the agent for the agent’s actions. Alternatively, if an alleged principal (trucking company, logistics company, etc) can establish that the owner or driver of the truck was an independent contractor, then the alleged principal may be able to escape any liability for the negligent actions of the driver.

The unique relationships created between the various entities create numerous questions of fact that must be investigated to defend against a Respondeat Superior claim and to establish if an independent contractor relationship exists. These considerations include the right of the principal to control the agent, method of payment, provision of necessary tools or materials and deduction of income tax, amongst others.

It is imperative for parties or potential parties to a trucking lawsuit have experienced counsel to investigate these claims. The attorneys at Koepke, Hiltabrand and Schutte are experienced in investigation and litigation of trucking and liability claims, along with the unique questions of law they present. Please contact us to discuss your case or any concerns you may have related to transportation liability.


By Jason G. Schutte

Speak with Our Legal Counselors Now

Call (217) 726-8646

logo 3

We are lawyers who are motivated, prepared and focused to meet client expectations.

With over fifty years of combined experience among our professional team of attorneys, we can take on a range of sophisticated and complex insurance defense cases.

Contact Info

Koepke & Hiltabrand P.C.
2341 W. White Oaks Dr.
Springfield, IL 62704

 (217) 726-8646

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

8.00 am to 7.00 pm